tv The Situation Room CNN May 15, 2013 2:00pm-4:01pm PDT
but i think there's a long recovery process and it will try to be there for each other to help along the way. >> all right. dr. jo shapiro, thank you so much. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper and i leave you in the capable hands of wolf blitzer in "the situation room." >> jake, thanks very much. happening now, breaking news. the white house has just released the e-mails showing how the obama administration planned its public response to the deadly benghazi attack last september 11. will that defuse the first of this wave of scandals? there's already bad blood between the attorney general of the united states eric holder and house republicans. can he survive his latest grilling on the judiciary committee hot seat? and we're also hearing right now from o.j. simpson. this for the first time since he was sent to prison for armed robbery and kidnapping. you'll see him take the witness stand in a bid for freedom.
i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we have breaking news right now. battered by controversies the white house makes a very bold move to defend its response to the deadly attack in benghazi, libya. just now it has just released the e-mails showing how officials tried to decide what to say to lawmakers and to the american public. you'll recall this was the attack that killed four americans including the united states ambassador to libya. the administration and congressional republicans have battled for months over the initial response in which the u.n. ambassador susan rice called the attack a spontaneous protest. we have since learned there was no protest at all outside the consulate in benghazi, libya. republicans have suggested the truth was deliberately covered up for political reasons to try to help the president get re-elected. our chief white house
correspondent jake tapper is here. he's been going through these documents. jake, you have them right there, about a hundred pages of e-mails. what's going on here? >> a hundred pages of documents. a lot of the names of career diplomats have been redacted but job titles are there. what you see is an interagency process of individuals from the fbi to the cia to the state department, national security council, weighing in on the talking points, what to say to congress, what to say to the american people. here is a quote from one of the quotes, an e-mail from cia public affairs officer to victoria nuland. they say, that being said there are indications islamic extremists participated in the violent demonstrations. the question of course being who to blame for the attacks that killed these four americans including the ambassador. then we see this is a big oft discussed part of the e-mail chain victoria nuland writing in an e-mail the penultimate point
could be abused, a point about the fact the cia warned the state department that the cia put in the talking points nuland from the state department objects to this. the penultimate point could be abused by members of congress to beat the state department for not paying atoengs agency warnings so why do we want to feed that either? concerned. there have been a lot of issues about that statement because people think it suggests that victoria nuland was trying to protect hillary clinton and the state department from political concerns. but, wolf, a senior administration official tells me that long before the cia heard about that issue, the deputy director of the cia, mike morell, independently decided to remove that point about all of the warnings that the cia had given the state department. they say he did that because, one, the talking points are supposed to be about what happened in that day, not six months before, and, two, that he didn't think it was professional or fair for the cia to say they had provided the state department with all these warnings. so this is a real window into
the decision making process, a hundred pages with all sorts of individuals weighing in and offering their suggestions. >> because it goes through the various agencies of the u.s. government whether the state department, the pentagon, the cia, the national security council. they're all weighing in. what to put in these talking points, what to tell members of congress, members of the house and senate intelligence committee, what to tell the american public. and so there's a treasure trove of information. >> that's right. you see specifically four changes that the cia makes. in the original draft they say we do know that islamic extremists participated in the attack but they change it to something else because they don't want to state with certainty that there was complicity, so there is a back and forth about that. they change attack to violent demonstration. then because they had changed it to violent demonstration they also changed a word from attack to something else because the idea that an attack evolved into an assault, they said, doesn't make a lot of sense.
they took out the al qaeda reference because again they say they did not want to get ahead of the fbi investigation. they weren't certain at that moment, remember this is just a few days after the attack, they weren't certain who had killed the four americans and the last thing of course was they added this section that the state department objected to about all the warnings about the deteriorating security conditions in libya at the time. >> let's bring gloria borger into this conversation, our chief political analyst. so what are the e-mails telling you about this exchange, the sort of internal bureaucratic battle that was going on within the obama administration? >> let me set the scene for you and jake can talk about this as well. you have david petraeus, former cia director, going up to the hill after this to brief members, and he tells them what he knows. and they say oh, that's kind of interesting. what can we say to the american public about that? he said, okay, guys. i'll get back to you on that. he goes back and he says, we need to come up with these so-called talking points that
members of congress can use when they talk about this publicly. the more they go through the iterations of this, there are questions as jake was just pointing out, about what is classified, what was unclassified? what the cia wanted to say. and, most of all, wolf, and you can talk about this, is there is a conflict between the state department and the cia here. this was a cia outpost. four people from the state department were there for probably 30 or so people from the cia. they weren't talking about that. the state department was a little anxious that it would look like they had gotten all of these warnings that they hadn't paid any attention to. so what they're saying here is this was not about politics. this was about figuring out what we could say to the american people that was unclassified and that was accurate. as it turned out, of course, it was completely false. >> because i know in some of
these documents, victoria nuland who was the spokesman, spokeswoman for the state department, she was very concerned about the reputation understandably so of the state department. >> well, that's one of the issues gloria just touched on was the fact that there was a huge cia presence in benghazi. and when they evacuated 30 individuals out the morning after, more than 20 of them were from the cia and the state department thought that this, especially the cia annex, that it was unfair they were wearing a state department jacket. the official idea was this was a state department out post and now the cia was going to blame the state department for a problem that they, themselves, were also responsible for. they're responsible for their own security, the cia. the state department had their own diplomatic security obviously inadequate at the time. >> because, gloria, the question obviously remains. why didn't they just release these documents a long time ago, end this controversy, if in fact it will end the controversy. why have they waited so long as part of this damage control operation? >> okay. so if wolf blitzer sends me an e-mail and i just thought i want
to release it i can release it because it's not classified. okay? and these are -- lots of these e-mails have to get declassified. and i think the white house is doing it now because they're in damage control mode obviously. and they believe that these e-mails make their case that what was going on was not political. it was just about being consistent and figuring out a way to be on the same page and figuring out a way to give people information that they thought to be the most accurate at that particular point in time. of course, the only thing that survived was something that was inaccurate. >> let me just button this up. what really emerged was susan rice's appearance on the five sunday morning television shows in which she blamed a spontaneous demonstration, angry reaction to that youtube anti-muslim video, which by then even according to these documents i suspect they knew was not necessarily true. >> no, not according to these documents. according to these documents in all, i believe it's 14
iterations, of the talking points, the cia is saying this was related to the demonstration in cairo, which was because of the anti-muslim video. that is what comes through here. susan rice did work off these talking points and of course we all had sources in the u.s. government. we were hearing from the prime minister of libya, the president of libya. others who were saying this was something more than just a demonstration. but the official position of the cia at that point was that this was as a result of being inspired. >> the number two diplomat who became the acting ambassador testified that he immediately was told by the -- by chris stevens the u.s. ambassador who was slain, we are under attack. it had nothing to do with these anti-muslim videos on youtube. >> right. >> it's staggering. >> what petraeus may have told folks in that briefing, i mean, we weren't there, but he may have gotten a little out over his skis as the saying goes in
that briefing and said, okay. i'll get this stuff together for you and then the bureaucracy and the people in each of the departments said, wait a minute. we can't do that. that's classified. so -- >> the question is, the political imperative, obviously the white house was talking about that al qaeda was on the run. this was in the weeks before the presidential campaign. so there was this idea that this was part of the president's re-election pitch. al qaeda is on the run. we're defeating terrorism. all of a sudden there is what is obvious to most of us at the time a terrorist attack, a preplanned terrorist attack on 9/11 in a very vulnerable out post that indicates, a, an intelligence failure. b, inadequate security, which ultimately we all know now the state department was not appropriately prepared for and then, c, questions about why the obama administration in supporting the arab spring is letting everything spiral so much out of control. >> bottom line, the release of these documents, is it going to
end the controversy over benghazi? >> no, no. >> it will not end the controversy but what it does do is it does suggest that those alleging that the only reason that people were blaming this on that antimuslim video was political. that case is undermined because you have the cia repeatedly arguing and the cia, it is clear, they are the ones taking the leadership role here, they are pushing that. >> and i think in the end what you may discover with most things in government is that it could be more bureaucratic and than anything else and, also, the unwillingness of people to go beyond what they had already stated, particularly at the state department. what the concern was at the state department was, don't get out ahead of what we've already been able to say or why wouldn't we have been able to say it? if it was unclassified. >> i think the controversy will survive, bottom line right now,
because it was such a dangerous place, benghazi. the british had pulled out. the international red cross had pulled out. there had been numerous warnings about al qaeda. ans aral sharia targeting westerners. for the united states ambassador to be in benghazi on the anniversary of that date with limited security is going to be the continuing scandal, the continuing crisis. why were all of these americans in benghazi at such a dangerous time when other allies had pulled out because it was so dangerous? why -- who made that reckless decision for those americans to be there when it was so, so dangerous? >> and why were they allowed to stay overnight there? >> and when you listen to the testimony of the career diplomats, the whistle blowers, that's what they focus on. >> yes. four dead americans. >> yes. >> because someone said, go to benghazi and be there. whether they were cia, clandestine officers or state department diplomats or
diplomatic security, someone made a decision you should be there on the anniversary of 9/11 even though there were numerous warnings that this was crazy. this was dangerous. don't be there especially at night. they went there and we know what happened. i think that -- this investigation will continue to try to follow those actions. >> make sure it doesn't happen again. >> even more so if i could just say, why wasn't there enough security? why when diplomat after diplomat, security officer after security officer in libya is saying, we need more security, why was the state department rejecting those requests? that is what the diplomats, the whistle blowers who have testified, that's what they have been focused on. they have not been focused on the talking points, the whistle blowers. they have been focused on the inadequate security for these brave men and women who go to these dangerous places in the service of the country. >> and that's what ambassador pickering's report was about. >> yeah. >> when he took a look at what was dysfunction in many ways about this whole event, and also
in terms of security at the state department, he was quite critical. they implemented, you know, more than the 28 or 29 things that they were told to do, but i think this is an issue that the state department obviously will be looking at and the cia will be looking at. >> we are just tuning in right now, i want to recap, this is the document that has just been released, about a hundred pages. >> 100 pages of e-mails. >> e-mails back and forth between the state department and the cia, the pentagon, the white house, the national security council. what should be told to members of congress about the killing of the united states ambassador and three other americans, the attack on the diplomatic outpost there, the cia operation that was under way. what should be told to members of congress in a classified version and in a public version and then what should be told to the american public? but both of you are now saying based on what you've read, and i've gone through these documents as well, this uproar and we'll be hearing later from republicans and some democrats, this uproar over benghazi will
continue. >> well, i think so. because this is only the -- there are three focuses of the uproar of the controversy. before the attack why wasn't there enough security. during the attack -- >> why was the ambassador even there. >> during the attack was enough done by the military? and then after the attack, was the administration trying to cover up? this adds to public understanding of the last one, the talking points. why were mentions of al qaeda and extremist groups scrubbed from the talking points? why were the fact that the cia had been warning the state department, why was that taken out of the talking points? what you see here in this hundred pages, and i think we have it all online at cnn.com, what you see here is an interagency process of people from the fbi, people from the cia, people from the office of the director of national intelligence, national security council, the national -- others -- the national security staffers, all of them weighing in trying to come on the same page about these things. you see the process of why the
mention of islamic extremists is taken out, why violent demonstrations put in instead of attack. why all these decisions are made. you can believe it or not but it is the reason we see in black and white the cia making their objections, the state department making their objections. >> we posted all of those documents on cnn.com. >> the important thing keep in mind ishat these so-called talking points were being put together to give to members of congress who would then talk to the american public about it. there was a real concern particularly on the part of the state department, don't get in the way of the investigation and don't get out ahead of ourselves. don't talk about classified information. the state department had not been able to talk about itself. after all, you were giving this to members of congress. and there is not a great deal of trust. >> i interviewed the chairman of the house intelligence committee, mike rogers, the next day, september 12th.
he was here in "the situation room" and he had been briefed. he had been briefed by the cia and he had been briefed by others in the u.s. government and in the exchange i had, because i pointed out to him, i don't believe in coincidences. on the anniversary of 9/11 this looked like a pretty sophisticated terrorist attack. it looked like it was an assassination plot against the united states ambassador and he basically said the same thing. he didn't say anything about this video, this anti-muslim video. he had already been told apparently that this was a pretty concerted, direct assault on the u.s. operation in benghazi and then for susan rice to say a few days later, well, it looks like it was a response to the anti-muslim video, that's what makes so many people upset. >> and what is significant about that, also, is that that video was causing a lot of demonstrations, violent demonstrations, throughout the arab and muslim world in tunisia, in cairo, egypt, and other places.
>> that's true. in cairo and other places. right. there was an american restaurant in beirut that was attacked. but that doesn't necessarily mean -- >> of course -- >> that the benghazi operation was -- >> but the sources at that moment, intelligence sources on the ground, did not think that it was in response to that anti-muslim video. >> right. >> but completely noncontroversial at that time to assume it might have had something to do with this at that particular moment in time. >> five days later they knew pretty much what was going on. >> as it turns out i think the question will still be asked about why that was really the only thing that actually survived. >> the scrubbing of the talking points. >> in the scrubbing of the talking points. >> jake makes an excellent point. as controversial as the points were and we focused in, this document focuses on the talking points, the two other issues that are not addressed by the release of these documents, why was the u.s. ambassador there to begin with? at such a dangerous time why was
he there with limited security? and then why didn't the u.s. military, special operations forces, do more once the attack started to try to save those americans? >> and those were the questions asked at the congressional hearing particularly by mr. hicks. >> one other point to make about this talking points that were released and the e-mails surrounding them is everybody is talking now about the deputies meeting, the meeting that took place at the white house the saturday morning after the attack but before susan rice went on the sunday shows the next morning. the deputies meeting. what i've been told by senior administration officials is that the talking points were a very, very small part of that meeting. when they were talking about it, what they were concerned about was the fact that the arab spring was spiraling out of control. there were demonstrations here, there, tunisia, cairo, yemen. they wanted to make sure americans were safe. that was the focus. at the end of the meeting according to a senior administration official, mike morell the deputy cia director stands up. he says, i am going to take
essentially i'm going to take ownership of the talking points. i hear the state department's concerns. i have concerns. i am going to take control of this. dennis mcdonagh now the white house chief of staff says, thanks, mike. that i'm told was the only discussion of the talking points in that meeting. >> hold on for a minute. our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin is joining us for a little context right now. i know you are speaking to officials over there. what are you learning? >> reporter: hi, wolf. as jake says, officials here are adamant that these talking points should now disabuse the public of the idea that they were up to any kind of political trickery, that in fact all they were doing was hashing out a normal kind of e-mail discussion about an ongoing, what they call fluid, very tense situation overseas and very sort of boring, mundane discussion about talking points over here. that this wasn't their number one concern. what their number one concern
was, kwtheir number one concern was the ongoing protests taking place in tunisia, in front of embassies, in pakistan, in front of embassies throughout the region at the time. and these talking points were sort of a very tertiary concern that was pushed to the back of the deputy cia's agenda and he didn't get to them until hours after they were sent to him on the day he was supposed to review them. that is why they say for example he put off reworking that until after his deputies meeting. that is their take and what they told us. as jake has reported and as gloria emphasized they said it was the cia who really took out those things that the white house has been hammered for, for example taking out al qaeda, changing the word attack to demonstration. all of that came out from the cia.
so, wolf, that is what senior administration officials are emphasizing. separately, i would point out that when you look through these papers there are some other things the administration isn't pointing out. for example, there is one e-mail from an unnamed person whose name is taken out, which goes through a list of things that happened at the deputies meeting, which they say, the officials say is wrong in every specific -- every single thing in this e-mail is wrong. they say this person outlines that there was heavy editing in the e-mails because they had to develop more appropriate talking points and that they have to rework it after the meeting to make it better for the sunday shows. everything about it they say is wrong. we asked why it was so deep wrong in detail. they couldn't specify. also, at the end of the documents, it indicates that director of the cia, petraeus,
had concerns, and it said i spoke to the director earlier about the state department's deep concerns about mentioning the warnings that the cia had made about libya before and the other work done on this. you will still want to reemphasize that in your note to the director of central intelligence. thanks. so there were a lot of things that they couldn't explain to us that contradicted their story. >> everyone hold on for a moment. we are just learning that the president will be making a statement to the american people on the irrelevans scandal unfol capitol hill right at the top of the hour. 6:00 p.m. eastern. we'll of course have live coverage here in "the situation room." the president speaking on the irs scandal from the white house in about 35 minutes or so from now. we'll have live coverage when the president makes his statement on the irs. that's a whole separate scandal. we'll get into that in a moment. let me bring up dana bash up on capitol hill. dana, we're watching all of
these investigations unfold, the benghazi investigation, the irs investigation, the associated press phone conversations investigation. there are three at the same time. it's almost unprecedented at least in my opinion having covered washington for a long time for three such investigations to be brewing at the same time. i know you're standing outside the speaker's office, john boehner. he and other republicans have been asking the white house to release all of these e-mails involving the so-called benghazi talking points. now they have been released. are we getting any reaction yet from republicans up on the hill? i think we may have lost dana, unfortunately. but she is standing outside the speaker's office. as we know, the speaker and others have been saying to the white house, release all of these e-mails. they were shown in private to members of congress. now they have been released once again. if you want to take a look at
them go to cnn.com. we have posted all of them. so let's move on and talk a little bit about the irs, gloria. you know, all of a sudden the president now about to go and deliver a statement on the irs investigation. the fact that the irs, officials at the irs decided to specifically target conservative groups, tea party organizations, others with the name tea party or patriot or groups like that. this is a huge scandal that's unfolding right now. the president is outraged. he says he didn't know anything about it until he read about it and heard about it from the news media the other day but he is going to make a statement now. >> i'm not surprised because in talking to senior advisers at the white house they believe that this is sort of one of the scandals that they can actually push aside because they're on the same side of the american people as this one. they're not fighting it. the republicans are on their side. the democrats are on their side. nobody is supporting the irs in any of this. and so i was kind of surprised the president didn't last night
when the inspector general report came out actually go and make the statement apologizing to the american people and saying we're going to get to the bottom of it. maybe that's what he is going to do today. i was told yesterday that they intend to take what one adviser told me was meaningful action. we'll have to see what that is. he is limited in who he can fire there. >> he's asked his treasury secretary to take some immediate action already. >> it's obvious of the three scandals we have brewing right now or controversies depending on your point of view, one benghazi, two, the irs improperly targeting conservative groups and, three, the department of justice subpoenaing broadly a number of phone records of reporters of the associated press and also other media organizations, it is obvious -- >> other media organizations besides the associated press? >> they're also in a separate war with the "new york times" but a different leak but that general idea. but my point is just of these three controversies, the fact
that the president is going to address this one shows you which one they actually think could hurt them. they obviously do not think the benghazi scandal -- they wouldn't have released a hundred e-mails if they didn't think they needed to do so, but i don't think they're worried about that long term. i think they believe people see it as a partisan divide. 40% think the president is telling the truth. 40% say he isn't. 20% say they don't know, which is pretty much means nothing. but the irs scandal is something every american understands. big government, big brother improperly going after me because of what i believe. >> and he needs to show the american people he is on their side with this. that there is no fault line here. that he wants to get to the bottom of this and that his administration is taking responsibility and trying to get to the bottom of it. that's how he can dispose of it, not dispose of it but essentially deal with it and say, i am going to fix this. this was wrong. i am with you. >> yeah. >> because as jake just said, this is politically damaging.
>> because they are clearly in damage control mode right now over at the white house releasing all of these documents after months refusing to release all of these documents and now the president going out and speaking on the irs investigation. we're going to hear from him in about a half an hour. let's go up to capitol hill. i think we've reconnected with our chief congressional correspondent dana bash. you're on the phone. you're right outside the speaker's office. is that right? >> reporter: well i'm in the hallway between the house floor and the speaker's office because there are votes going on right now and i'm waiting to try to talk to him. he's actually been swearing in a new member of congress right now but as i'm standing here i had a chance to talk to the top democrat on the house intelligence committee dutch rupers berger. he is important for lots of reason but most importantly he is the one who asked for these talking points in the first place right after the attack in benghazi so members of congress would have a sense of what they could say to the media, what would not be classified.
i just talked to him and he said that he is very happy, very relieved that the white house finally put these out so that from his perspective we can all see what really went on with the back and forth and trying to decide what people like him should and shouldn't say in interviews. and, you know, he is a democrat, so he -- he believes what really went on was not something nefarious from the white house point of view but was done to protect sources and so forth from the point of view of the cia. that's what dutch rupersberger said and when it comes to the speaker who has as late as this morning had a press conference and called on the white house to release these e-mails i'm waiting to see what he has to say about that. >> i'm sure he'll welcome the release of the e-mails. on the issue of the irs the president in about a half an hour will make a statement from the white house on this irs investigation. he is outraged as i think almost everyone is that officials at
the irs were specifically targeting conservative groups for special treatment when they applied for tax-exempt status, not necessarily targeting liberal groups but only certain conservative groups and we heard from the speaker and you're standing right outside hoping to get him. he says people should go to jail as a result of what happened at the irs. >> that's right. he is not waiting for the criminal investigation to be done to make that statement. that certainly was kind of the thrust of the news on capitol hill today with regard to the irs. the attorney general was here for hours talking to the judiciary testifying before the judiciary committee and made the point that he is going to take the facts where they lead. he is going to not just focus on the office where this allegedly started, the cincinnati office where they deal with tax-exempt issues but will deal with it all across the country and he said
this is something where these employees could face criminal charges for civil rights violations, for violating the hatch act which makes it illegal for civil servants to do anything political, and maybe even lying to congress. so that certainly is kind of the thrust of where things stand here now. politically, you're going to have a lot of democrats who have been showing how out raged they are very relieved to see the president giving the statement to try to get out in front because they are concerned about the combination, the irs, benghazi, and of course these ap phone records that were subpoenaed. they're concerned this is going to hurt the agenda they want to do here mainly what i've heard in the hallways immigration reform. that is the one thing everyone thinks they can do and they're concerned this will be a distraction. >> the president has critically important issues he wants to get done in the second term and
obviously focusing on the other investigations, three simultaneous ones at the same time, is going to obviously undermine. jessica yellin, i understand the president will deliver his statement not from the briefing room but from the east room of the white house which obviously makes it a lot more formal and potentially a lot more significant. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. while officials here have not said what he will do, they have signaled all along that the president sees this as the kind of situation where severe action is necessitated. they pointed out or i -- the gsa scandal that's another agency scandal you'll recall where people on the government dime went to las vegas and partied it up and abused their position and they were dealt with severely. people ended up resigning and losing their jobs. the point there was when governments positions were abused, there was a lack of
integrity, the president acted. and so the point is this is a case where we expect to see the president make some heads roll. so i don't know definitively that the president is going to announce that anybody is losing their job. but i wouldn't be surprised if we see the president say that severe consequences either have resulted from the ig's report or will. we do know that he met with senior treasury officials this afternoon and that the treasury secretary is in charge and directing the treasury secretary to carry out, make sure that people were held accountable. we'll see if he has decided already what the results will be or is telling us that there will soon be consequences, wolf. >> gloria, what should the president say on this irs investigation when he shows up in the east room? >> i think he needs to tell the american people what he is doing, that this happened on his watch, that he is sorry that it -- it occurred -- that he is
fixing it as jessica just pointed out. he met with treasury officials about 4:45 today. so, clearly, something transpired in that meeting. i've been e-mailing trying to find out. and that he has to announce some action and be in charge of this. he's got to get in front of it. he's going to try and move on from it because this is a problem. >> it needs to be the statement of a leader not a lawyer. >> right. >> it can't be if this happened the way that it's reported, then therefore it would be outrageous. that's not what people want to hear. that's basically what he said in the east room, i forget when it was, monday maybe. >> that was before the report right? >> before the report came out but when there were -- before the inspector general report came out. >> he used the phrase if this happens. >> if the media is correct even though the irs and official had already admitted and apologized and called it inappropriate it can't be that politically. he has to show anger. he has to show this is unacceptable. he maybe even needs to announce some staffing changes at that organization if he is not constrained by labor laws. >> yes.
>> he needs to really make it clear that t untenable. but, wolf, there is one other thing i wanted to -- you asked if the benghazi, the release of these e-mails would end the controversy and as you were saying that i was tweeted by republican congressman jason chafitz of utah who as you know is on the house investigative committee, the one that flew over to libya. he wasn't -- there was a back and forth about whether he was allowed to meet with the deputy diplomat there, the deputy -- he e-mails me or tweets me rather the white house should release all the unclassified benghazi documents and e-mails. instead they pick and choose. another tweet that he says there are 25,000 documents but they won't give us to them so the idea this hundred pages is going to end it for members of congress on the oversight committee especially republicans obviously the tweet speaks a thousand words. >> the question is whether it ends the sort of hyperbole of
calling this worse than watergate, worse than iran contra, and all the rest. i mean, that is a question of whether there is any sort of modulation in the investigation or the tone and whether, in fact, congress proceeds differently. i mean, it's clear that jason chafitz has not changed -- this has not done anything to change his mind. >> jason -- congressman chafitz, twitter handle is jason in the house, the congressman's focus has not only been on the talking points. the committee has been looking at everything, both the denials of security and the military responsibility. >> don't go too far. stand by. we'll continue our breaking news coverage. once again we're waiting for the president of the united states. he is going to be speaking from the east room of the white house. you're looking at live pictures of the white house right now right at the top of the hour in less than 25 minutes if it's on time. 6:00 p.m. eastern. we'll have live coverage here in
the situation room. the president will speak on the irs investigation. i'll also talk about the release of all of these benghazi e-mails. the irs scandal, much more. the veteran democratic congressman charlie rangel is here live in the situation room. also, there is another piece of bad blood developing between house republicans and the attorney general eric holder. he got a grilling today up on capitol hill. but he was also dishing it out. >> i'm not going to stop talking now. you characterized something -- >> mr. chairman would you inform the witness as to the rules of the committee? >> -- it's too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of congress. it is unacceptable and it's shameful. ♪
right at the top of the hour the president of the united states will be in the east room of the white house to deliver a major statement to the american people on the irs investigation why officials at the irs were targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. this is a huge scandal that is unfolding. dana bash is our chief congressional correspondent. dana, i take it you're learning what the president may be about to announce. >> well, in a very cryptic way. a democratic source familiar with the president and what he is going to talk about tells me he is going to talk about,
quote, irs changes. irs changes. that was again a cryptic e-mail to me. of course i'm asking the obvious question -- personnel? the acting commissioner of the irs? or is it more about structural changes? don't have the answer to that yet but irs changes is the nugget that we have so far to go on about what the president is going to talk about. >> and in about less than 20 minutes we should know, specifically, what the president has in mind. jake tapper, gloria borger, joe johns. they are here with me in "the situation room." changes. irs changes. that could mean almost anything. >> right. i would imagine there probably would be some sort of changes in personnel and staffing. there will probably be some sort of investigation beyond just the department of justice, the criminal investigation into what happened. there may be some sort of panel or way to make sure this never happens again. because obviously it's untenable and it cannot happen that the irs should selectively target
individuals because they disagree with their ideological beliefs. >> because as you know, one of the responsibilities of the irs is to make sure that when an organization applies for tax-exempt status, charitable status or whatever, that it's a legitimate organization. >> sure. >> so there is nothing wrong with examining that organization and making sure they're doing something for the social welfare, for the social good. what's wrong is if you just go after conservative organizations as opposed to liberal organizations. >> and targeting people with names, tea party, constitution, you know, names that are so-called conservative sounding. that's wrong. possibly criminally wrong. this is what the president has to say, that his administration is going to get to the bottom of it because he understands it's not the way we operate in this country. >> it undermines so much
credibility the american public has about the role of government which is already undermined. >> it's now 28%. during watergate it was higher. and what this is going to do is tank that even more and ge tent who say, big government is taking over everything. it's bad. you can't trust it. and by the way, it's also incompetent. it gives them an awful lot of talking points as we mate say. >> joe, you were up on capitol hill listening to the attorney general of the united -- he was grilled before the house judiciary committee today on several of these emerging scandals. >> including the irs, in fact. and he did say during that testimony before the house judiciary committee that he intended to launch a nationwide, a wide-ranging investigation of the irs and its practices. there was very little talk about that other issue of course that unusual investigation of leaks involving the associated press,
but when you throw all of this into the mix of what's going on on capitol hill, it's quite unusual. and they also renewed the long-running feud between eric holder and the judiciary committee. bad blood between attorney general eric holder and the republican controlled house judiciary committee, which was instrumental in the successful push to get holder cited for contempt of congress. >> do you swear that the testimony you are about to give is the truth -- >> reporter: holder went on offense early pointing out the chairman of the republican national committee asked for him to step down over sweeping subpoenas in a leak investigation involving the associated press. even though holder had actually taken himself off the case because he had been interviewed about the leak. >> why was such a broad scope approved? >> i mean, there's ban lot of criticism. the head of the rnc called for my resignation in spite of fact i was not the person involved in that decision. >> reporter: anger spilled over
when congressman darrell issa of california pointed out that united states attorney for the district of columbia ronald machum one of the officials put in charge of investigating the leak to the associated press was the same administration appointee who refused to prosecute holder in court after congress held him in contempt less than a year ago. >> can he be considered to be independent when in fact when this congress held you in contempt he was the individual who refused on your orders to prosecute the case? >> i did not order him not to do anything with regard to, i won't characterize it, the contempt finding from this congress. >> reporter: and holder did not back down when issa asked him about the disputed e-mails in an investigation of the president's nominee to run the labor department. >> yes, you didn't want us to see the details. >> i'm not going to stop talking now. i'll characterize something as -- >> mr. chairman, would you inform the witness as to the rules of the committee? >> -- as appropriate and too
consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of congress. it is unacceptable and shameful. >> reporter: meanwhile on the issue of the internal revenue service targeting conservative groups holder promised a nationwide investigation and suggested potential violations of law now under federal investigation could include criminal civil rights infractions, even lying. >> there is also the possibility of thousands of false statements, violations that might have been made given -- given at least what i know at this point. >> reporter: and we also may have gotten just a precursor of the breaking news here in "the situation room." holder hinted there on capitol hill that we may soon hear details of the federal investigation into the terror attacks at the u.s. consulate in benghazi. he said they will be prepared shortly to reveal all that they've done. >> quite a lively performance up there in that anger, gloria, that we saw between darrell issa, one of the key
investigators of one of those subcommittees, of the committee of the government and government reform special committee and eric holder when he started -- when they started going back and forth. that was pretty -- >> it was a rare moment. >> that was ugly. >> and i think joe would agree about how these two men feel about each other. >> he's going to join us by the way in the next hour, darrell issa. we'll get his reaction to after the president speaks about the irs we'll hear what he has to say. charlie rangel is also coming in to speak with us, one of the key democrats on the house ways and means committee. he's obviously been very, very concerned about what's going on. >> yeah. one of the things i'm curious what joe things about the idea of recusal. the attorney general talked about how he recused himself from the leak investigation but there didn't seem to be any written record of recusal and i believe there is supposed to be. >> it depends on how you read the justice department regulations. it's clear that it's the attorney general who is supposed to make the decisions on the
subpoenas. the attorney general made the point that because he had been interviewed as a fact witness previously, he handed that decision off to someone else in the department who effectively became the attorney general for those issues. so whether or not there is required to be a written record, is something i think you just have to ask. >> did he recuse himself or did they recuse him? >> he says he recused himself but he says he didn't write it down. apparently there is not even an e-mail. they actually looked for documents and didn't find any written record of him saying i'm stepping away. >> the significance is because according to the associated press that this story they were working on in 2012 about al qaeda would have undermined again the administration talking about how al qaeda was on the run because it was a story about how al qaeda still was and
pl plotting. >> he asked the deputy attorney general to take charge. stand by for a moment. we're getting closer to the top of the hour. that's when the president of the united states will go into the east room of the white house. you're looking at live pictures right now. to make a statement on the irs investigation to the american people. stand by.
we're following breaking news. within the next few moments, the president of the united states will go into the east room of the white house. you're looking at live pictures from the east room right now. the president will make a statement on the irs scandal that has been brewing now for the past few days. the president will certainly condemn what happened at the irs. with official word now from the inspector general of the treasury department, that officials at the irs inappropriately targeted conservative organizations for special treatment, in advance of getting tax-exempt status.
organizations involving tea party supporters and others, totally inappropriate for the internal service to be doing that. the president will be making a statement. we'll see what announcement he has. i don't think he's going to be answering questions. he'll just be making a statement to the american people. he clearly, cording to all of his aides, is outraged by what happened. all of this coming only an hour after the white house did something that earlier they resisted doing for weeks, indeed for months, releasing all of the e-mail traffic from the state officials from the state department, the white house, the cia, the pentagon. officials determining what should be told to the american people, what should be told to members of congress about the attack on the u.s. consulate, the diplomatic outpost in benghazi, that wound up killing four americans including the u.s. ambassador to libya, chris stevens. jake tapper is here, gloria
borger is here, joe johns is here. jake, recap for the viewers who are just tuning in right now, and you've got the 200 pages of e-mails right now, the headline coming out of this. >> the white house released 100 pages, and republicans will say there's still 25,000 pages of documents they want to see. but showing the interagency process of the individuals in the obama administration, the state department, the fbi, the cia, drafting these talking points for members of congress and how to discuss what happened at benghazi, who was responsible, and why it happened. you see the state department spokesman victoria nuland suggesting that they had repeatedly warned the state department about extremist activity. you see the cia making changes, about changing the term islamic extremists, taking it out, that there was a definitive way that everybody knew for sure it was
islamic extremists, especially those familiar with al qaeda. here's one e-mail that we have, e-mail from the cia public affairs office to victoria nuland at the state department. that being said, it says, there are indications that islamic extremists participated in the violent demonstrations. this is about they're debating whether or not they know for certain that an al qaeda related group or islamic extremists are responsible for killing four americans, including the u.s. ambassador, or if it was some other reason. there's another e-mail, we heard a lot about this one from victoria nuland, this is about the warnings, the cia insisted on putting in the talking points, this point could be abused by members to beat the state department for not paying attention to agency warnings. so why do we want to feed that? now, i have been told by senior administration officials that before the cia heard about nuland's concerns, this is not reflected in these e-mails, but
cording to a senior administration official, mike more rel, the deputy cia director, said he was already concerned, because the talking points were supposed to be about what happened that day, not about the six months prior. and also because in morerel's view cording to the source, he didn't think it professional or fair for the cia to say that they had provided the state department with all these warnings. as we've discussed, one of the other reasons unstated is that the biggest presence in benghazi was cia, of the 30 or so people evacuated the next day after the attack, more than 20 of them were cia. so it's almost like the cia blaming the state department for inadequate security, their own diplomatic presence. >> the president, gloria, is going to be making a statement in the next few minutes from the white house on the irs investigation. i suspect he won't at all refer to the benghazi incident. i suspect he won't refer to the phone calls that were monitored, if you will, that were -- not recorded, but they were assessed
by the department of justice, the u.s. attorney, and the associated press regarding leaks. although in a general way, he may try to address that, probably at the end of his remarks. i'm just guessing. >> look, we were discussing earlier, the one problem he's got on his large plate right now, that he can actually sort of tackle head-on pretty simply, i'm the guy in charge. i want these people fired. this person's going to go. this was wrong. i am sorry it happened on my watch. i promised to the american people it will never happen again. don't forget, wolf, there is nobody out there defending the irs. not at the white house, not among republicans, not among democrats. nobody's defending the irs. the president knows that he's got to end this, right now, by saying, i'm fixing it. i'm in charge. it shouldn't have happened. >> he's got a major agenda right now, that he's trying to get through congress, including comprehensive immigration
reform. economic issues, job creation, he's got a debt ceiling that's about to explode at the end of july, if you will. he's got a lot of work to do. this is the last thing he needs, three separate investigations under way. >> i have to tell you, too, just sort of, again, taking the temperature on capitol hill, at the hearing today with eric holder, the easy part of his testimony was about the irs. because all they did is walk in and say, we're going to expand, make this investigation even bigger. we're going to get to the bottom of this. that was received very well by both democrats and republicans. so the irs, is apparently the easiest thing to fix, just by investigating and figuring out what went wrong. >> wolf, this has been a political sinkhole for the white house, all of these three things together. one of the most important commodities at the white house is time. and the people who run the white house right now are talking about this stuff. rather than the agenda that you're talking about. the president is -- met with
john mccain, trying to keep immigration reform on track. but this is taking up a huge amount of their time, and they need to try and dispose of some of these things so they can get on with talking about what they want to talk about. >> the top of the hour, the president momentarily will be going into the east room of the white house. we're watching what's going on here in "the situation room." i'm wolf blitzer in washington. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. even as we await the president, by the way, we just got word that the jury in phoenix in the jodi arias trial, they have reached a verdict on phase two, whether or not she should live or die, whether she should be eligible for the death penalty, or not. they have to determine if when she killed her ex-lover, it was done in an unusually cruel way, or not. if they determine it was done in an unusually cruel way, she will be eligible for the death penalty. but then there will be a third phase of this trial, which will determine the sentence, whether
she spends the rest of her life in jail or whether she is eligible for the death sentence of the we don't know when they're actually going to announce the verdict. we'll continue to monitor what's happening in phoenix. we'll go there once we know what's going on. but once again, the arias verdict has been reached. we'll let you know when we know what's going on. in the meantime, we're awaiting the president of the united states. he'll be walking into the east room of the white house, and making a major statement on the irs investigation. he'll be telling us what he thinks needs to be done to move on. clearly, major, major blunders were made by irs officials in targeting conservative groups for specific attention. dana bash has been getting some information from her sources up on capitol hill. what you've been telling us, dana, is that we will hear from the president what has cryptically been described as irs changes that will be in the works. >> that's right. that is all my democratic source
would say to me, irs changes. that could mean a lot of different things. i can tell you that just bumping into some senior senators on the way from where i was, to here, to talk to you at the camera, they are wondering whether or not those changes mean personnel changes at the top. and saying they wouldn't be surprised, but they also are very clear they had not been briefed on that. everybody is sort of waiting with baited breath to see exactly what the president does announce. because this is certainly something, as joe was just saying, that is bipartisan, that is stoking bipartisan outrage, but it is also putting a lot of fear, political fear in the hearts of democrats here on capitol hill. because they just want these issues to be, at least the tempers to be taken down a little bit. they're hoping what the president does today will do that, so they can get on with their important wiagenda items.
>> jessica yellin is standing by. jessica, this is obviously not an easy decision for the president to go ahead and make a statement like this. >> that's right, wolf. i know the president's going to make a very brief statement, only five minutes. and it's already running a little bit late. very briefly, he will announce something of substance. i'm waiting to bring it to you. hopefully i'll have that very soon. i also want to tell you the speaker of the house, john boehner, is talking about the benghazi e-mails. the speaker has been quite outraged over the e-mails. and his spokesman says that the e-mails only confirm what the speaker's been saying all along, and that the release of these in no way alleviates the republicans' concerns, to make a change for political reasons. it seems the political nature of the state department's concerns
raises questions about the motivations behind these changes, and who at the state department was seeking them. he says the release of the e-mails is long overdue. and he says that they hope that there is more cooperation to come. bottom line, this is not the end of a war, but just more skirmishing, wolf. it looks like the benghazi issue, it certainly isn't over with this release, as speaker boehner's concerns are not alleviated, but only heightened by what they've read in the documents they've seen today, wolf. >> jessica, i take it you and other reporters are in the east room. the president will just make a statement. i anticipate he's not going to be answering questions, but i could be wrong, obviously. >> no, definitely no questions. and again, just a very brief statement. five minutes, in and out. and we can try to shout them, but i'm confident he won't be answering them, wolf. >> sometimes if you shout, they
stop and -- earlier presidents used to do this. >> not so much. >> this president is very disciplined. occasionally he will come back and answer a reporter's question, if he likes the question. maybe come up with something he might like. jake tapper is here with us, gloria borger, joe johns. the president's got a major challenge, three potential scandals unfolding at the same time. in all the years i've been in washington covering several presidents, there is usually one scandal that can absorb an enormous amount of time. whether you go back to the nixon administration and watergate, you saw the end result there, or iran contra during the reagan administration. whitewater, monica lewinsky during the bill clinton administration. those were a lot of investigations. they start off relatively modestly. you don't know, though, once there are criminal investigations under way by the fbi, where they wound up.
valerie plaim leak operation, chief of staff to the vice president of the united states was convicted of lying to fbi officials. once there's an fbi inquiry, you don't know where these things wind up. >> no, it's true. i will say, if i can put on my analyst hat for a second -- >> please. >> -- i don't think that the scandal, controversy, whatever you want to call it, about the department of justice legally subpoenaing the phone records, very broadly, of the associated press reporters, is something that the american people are going to care about. i don't think that they do. i think that it's the -- this one, and previous administrations and before that, can say it's national security, we need to do this for national security. and ultimately, i don't think the public cares about whether or not we, in the media, have unfettered, to use jay carney's word, to have freedom of press. i obviously personally feel like it should, but i don't think it
has traction. >> insofar as it plays into the republican narrative -- >> they're complaining about the leaks. the republicans were complaining about the leaks. >> they were. >> how come your administration leaked so much. holder appoints a u.s. attorney to investigate the leaks. he's aggressively investigating the leaks. now i understand that there doesn't have to be consistency. >> well, correct. >> hold on for a minute, guys. there's been a verdict in phase two of the jodi arias trial. the judge is speaking. >> so say you one and all? >> yes. >> ladies and gentlemen, the clerk will ask each of you a question, please answer yes or no. juror number one, is this your true verdict? >> yes. >> juror number two? >> yes. >> juror number three? >> yes. >> juror number four? >> yes. >> juror number six? >> yes. >> juror number seven? >> yes. >> juror number nine? >> yes. >> juror number 12? >> yes. >> juror number 13?>> yes.
>> juror number 14? >> yes. >> juror number 16? >> yes. >> juror number 18? >> yes. >> ladies and gentlemen, we are going to recess for today. please be back tomorrow morning at 10:30. between now and then, continue to follow the -- >> there you have it. the jury has decided that jodi arias was guilty of extreme cruelty in killing her ex, late boyfriend, extreme cruelty, now that sets the stage for the third part of this trial, whether or not the jury decides she will get the death penalty or not. she is now eligible for the death penalty, because the jury has concluded that she killed travis alexander, her late lover, with extreme cruelty. so the death penalty is now going to be determined by this jury. and within the next few days, they will begin this third and
final phase of the trial, which will determine whether she spends the rest of her life in jail, or whether she is eventually executed for killing her late boyfriend. we'll continue to monitor that. but let's get back to the news here in washington right now. the president of the united states getting ready to be in the east room. he was supposed to speak almost ten minutes or so ago. he's clearly running a little bit late. we'll hear from the president on the irs scandal that has been brewing. why did officials at the internal revenue service target conservative organizations for special treatment when they applied for tax-exempt status. we'll see what happens on that front when the president shows up in the east room of the white house. jessica yellin is over at the white house. dana bash is monitoring what's happening on capitol hill. we'll get reaction, by the way, after the president's remarks from darrell issa, a key republican congressman who's been closely following all of these investigations, as we
know. as we await the president, he's running a little bit late. let me bring jeffrey toobin into this, and get his quick reaction to the jury deciding that extreme cruelty was proven in the way that jodi arias killed her late lover. and she will now be eligible, jeff, for the death sentence. >> well, she's two-thirds of the way to a death sentence. the first stage, of course, was the guilt phase. she was found guilty of first-degree murder. arizona has a very unusual penalty phase. this two-part penalty phase. the first part is now over. as you've been saying, the jury has found extreme cruelty. now is a more complicated and a more difficult challenge for the prosecution, and a chance for the defense to really put on a case. because here is where the prosecution will talk about the aggravating factors, what made this crime soterrible, and the defense will have a chance to talk about the mitigating
factors. why there are reasons that the jury should show some level of mercy on jodi arias. from the very beginning of this case, she has had what's called a mitigation specialist. a team that is looking at the issue of mitigation that will present the case for mercy. that's what's going to come now. but this is it. this is the last decision the jury has to make. and things have not been going well for her so far. >> this third and final phase, jeff, how long do we expect it to continue? how many days? >> you know, i don't know. it will certainly be longer than this cruelty phase. there was only one witness in that, it was just a medical examiner who talked about the horrible wounds that travis alexander had. this will be much more extensive. i don't know how long. this case has already gone on for months. i anticipate this could be a while, because the mitigation could be quite a few number of witnesses. >> as we await the president in the east room, ted rolland is
out in phoenix covering this trial for us. ted, i don't think there was ever any doubt, at least in my mind, 27 knife stabs, slitting his throat from ear to ear, a gunshot, that sounds like extreme cruelty to me. so it clearly was never any doubt how this jury would decide this phase two of the trial. >> yeah, it only took an hour and a half for them to render this verdict at this stage of the trial. they've been told to go home for the evening and then they'll be back for the last phase, which will be the most difficult phase likely for them to decide the fate of another human being. we are expecting that portion of the trial to last about a week. and it will start tomorrow morning. typically court is dark on fridays. we haven't heard final word on that. but it clearly will spill into next week. this jury of eight men and four women have just one more crucial decision to make, which they'll start making tomorrow. >> all right. we'll stay in close touch with
you, ted rolands on the scene. she was convicted of first-degree murder, an hour the jury said she's eligible for the death penalty in the third and final phase. ted saying it could last for about a week. they'll determine whether or not she gets the death penalty, or whether she gets life in prison. we'll have much more on this story coming up throughout the night here on cnn. but once again, the big story here in washington, indeed, in the nation, the president of the united states speaking out momentarily on the irs investigation into why the irs targeted certain conservative groups for special treatment when they applied for tax-exempt status, treatment they did not apply to liberal groups or other political organizations. it's causing a huge uproar here in washington. jake tapper is watching what's going on, gloria borger, joe johns. if the associated press scandal is not really going to generate a lot of commotion as you suggest earlier, or the benghazi
thing may go away, the irs investigation, the american public can relate to that. >> look, i think all three of them are legitimate controversies. i just think that the irs scandal is something that americans can understand. they pay taxes. they -- it's a fear of big government, that a lot of americans have, even liberals have a fear of big government. >> there's a history of liberal organizations, african-american organizations being specifically targeted. >> absolutely. nixon abused the irs. this is not unique to this administration. an irs team, unfairly targeting individuals because of their political beliefs. it's horrific. and it's something that you can find -- look, you can find somebody on capitol hill who believes anything. but i have not heard one -- >> and we do. >> and we do. but it is very tough. i have not heard of one person defending what the irs is accused of doing.
not one. >> it speaks to the role of government. and trust in government. this is a president who has asked government to do a lot, with his health care -- >> absolutely. this is where it's going next. >> now he's saying, government's going to secure the borders. why should people trust the government to do that, when they see what happened at the irs? so this has been a consistent problem for president obama throughout his tenure, which he himself has said publicly, that he kind of underestimated how people really felt about their government, particularly when he was asking them to buy into health care reform, which by the way, half of the american public is still skeptical of that. >> the other thing that is important to say, despite all the sturm und drang over this, a lot of people are saying, you may not see any real substantive charges coming out of this irs issue, unless there was some kind of command influence, very high, that suggested that this needed to go forward. perhaps false statements against a couple officials, and perhaps
some type of a civil rights violation. but many of these things are very hard to do, so at the end of the day, you may just have regulatory issues and somebody either getting fired or a slap on the hand. >> let's remember, that the individuals being targeted are politically active individuals. as soon as this started happening, they started complaining to sympathetic members of congress, and republicans in congress had been asking about this for literally four years. and the irs has been telling them, it is not happening, it is not the case, and then all of a sudden the irs said, it was happening, and it's inappropriate. >> the perverse result of all of this is that these tax-exempt organizations, on both sides, will not now be investigated, perhaps the way they should be, because they do practice politics, even when they say they don't. >> hold on for a moment. as we await the president, he's running a little bit late, darrell issa, the congressman from california, is joining us live from capitol hill right now. he's the chairman of the house
oversight and government reform committee. what do you want to hear from the president on this irs investigation, congressman? >> well, we expect to hear from the president that he's going to aggressively hold people responsible. and that's good. but the ig's report made it very clear that the institution does not have the controls for the ig even to guarantee that it is not much broader than we now know. in other words, he doesn't know there were other scandals like this in the irs, because the internal controls were not good enough. i think that's the beginning of where congress is going to want more action. >> do you believe crimes were committed? >> well, certainly i think the american people believe in that old axiom that the power to tax is the power to destroy. and people had an intent to destroy, or to effect the outcome of an election by holding back groups that might have been advocates for smaller government, for constitutional behavior and the like. it certainly had a disruptive process, in this case, as you've been saying, it's conservatives.
but in the past it's also been other groups. african-american groups, civil rights groups, a number of others. i think what we have to do is fix the irs once and for all. i look forward to the president getting ahead of part of this story. but let's remember, the actions the irs, in this case, conspicuously benefited the president. >> because in the inspector general's report, among other things, they concluded this, all of these officials stated that the criteria were not influenced by any individual or organization outside the irs. do you buy that? >> well, i certainly think it's possible that the irs, individuals, for political reasons, made decisions to distort the process. but i also know that a huge number of members of congress on both the house and senate side, including the finance committee chairman, wrote letters saying, investigate the tea party. so you kind of have the worst of both worlds. you have members of congress
saying investigate the tea parties, you have individuals saying they did it, but those letters made no difference. the president benefiting made no difference. again, wolf, the important thing from the ig, the takeaway that the oversight committee will be doing in addition to ways and means, is making sure the controls are put in, sort of like the enron scandal, and the worldcom scandal. if public companies can't be trusted when they put something out, it affects the market. if the government can't be trusted when they take your taxes, we need to make sure it will be. >> the president is about to speak. if you can stand by and listen to the president with us, we'll continue this conversation on the other side. he's going to speak in a few seconds. jessica, you're over at the white house. you're getting some information? >> i can tell you from a democratic source that when the president comes out here, he is going to announce that he has asked that the president is going to announce treasury secretary liu has accepted the resignation. the acting director of the irs
will -- the president will announce that the acting director of the irs has resigned. that will be the accountability the president has demanded. we will see if that is enough to quell these controversy. >> the president is going to walk out to the podium right now. we'll hear what the president has to say. he's speaking on this irs investigation. you got the headline there from our jessica yellin. she's over at the white house. as soon as the president's done, we'll get reaction from congressman darrell issa. here's the president. >> good afternoon, everybody. i just finished speaking with secretary lew and senior officials at the treasury department to discuss the investigation into irs personnel who improperly screened conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. i look forward to taking some questions at tomorrow's press conference, but today i wanted to make sure to get out to all of you some information about
what we're doing about this, and where we go from here. i've reviewed the treasury department watchdog's report, and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable. it's inexcusable, and americans have a right to be angry about it, and i am angry about it. i will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the irs. given the power that it has, and the reach that it has in all of our lives. and as i said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you're from, the fact of the matter is that the irs has to operate with absolute integrity. the government generally has to conduct itself in a way that is true to the public trust. that's especially true for the irs. so here's what we're going to do. first, we're going to hold the responsible parties accountable.
yesterday i directed secretary lew to follow up on the audit and find out who was responsible and to make sure that we understand all the facts. today secretary lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the irs. because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it's important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward. second, we're going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again. and i've directed secretary lew to ensure the irs begins implementing the ig's recommendations right away. third, we will work with congress as it performs its oversight role. and our administration has to make sure that we are working hand in hand with congress to get this thing fixed. congress, democrats and republicans, owe it to the american people to treat that
authority with the responsibility it deserves, and in a way that doesn't smack of politics or partisan agendas, because i think one thing that you've seen is across the board, everybody believes what happened in -- as reported in the ig's report is an outrage. the good news is, it's fixable. and it's in everyone's best interests to work together to fix it. i'll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this happens again. by holding the responsible parties accountable, by putting in place new checks and safeguards, and going forward by making sure that the law is applied as it should be in a fair and impartial way. we'll have to make sure that the laws are clear, so that we can have confidence that they are enforced in a fair and impartial way. and there's not too much ambiguity surrounding these laws. that's what i expect. that's what the american people deserve. and that's what we're going to do.
thank you very much. >> a brief statement, three or four minutes by the president of the united states, making it clear he is deeply, deeply concerned about what happened at the irs. announcing that the acting commissioner has resigned. they've asked for his resignation. they've accepted his resignation. also saying there will be new safeguards to make sure this never, ever happens again. he also promised to work with congress to do the best that they possibly can to fix the problem, to see what happened, to learn from the mistakes, and then move on. let's get dana bash up on capitol hill. how is this likely to play up there, dana? >> well, you know, it's going to be mixed. it certainly won't satisfy either democrats or republicans in general. but it certainly is a good first step when it comes to accountability. but let me just give you a little bit of context about who steven miller is, and why he was in the hot seat, perhaps, more than anybody right now. because he is the acting
commissioner of the irs. he, we now know, was told about this targeting last year. and may 3rd of 2012. he did not tell congress about it. he had various kinds of communications and letters and meetings and so forth, and he didn't -- he neglected to tell congress, he didn't disclose it. never mind that, he didn't just voluntarily call and say, i found this out. that's why consider the fact that he is the current head. he was the person who was going to absolutely get raked over the coals. he was supposed to testify day after tomorrow, on friday, before the house ways and means committee. clearly don't expect that to happen now. but we'll see when we hear back from the house ways and means office about that. but that's why this is so important. the other thing to keep in mind is that the irs is generally kind of a protected place on purpose. there are few political appointees, only two, he is one of them. so this is a quick and easy change for the president to
make. other changes with civil service are a lot more difficult. >> dana, stand by. let's get quick reaction from congressman darrell issa, joining us live from capitol hill. he listened to what the president had to say over at the white house. did he satisfy you, did he satisfy your demands, congressman? >> well, wolf, the president said exactly the right tone. i think that immediate relieving of an acting commissioner who had -- made false statements and misled congress is an extremely good first step. one thing i can assure you that he asked for that he's going to get, both the ways and means committee and my committee with my ranking committee member elijah cummings, we've started off with bipartisan work, we've started off that way and we'll stay that way. the irs is definitely an issue, that what happens wrong today could happen wrong tomorrow. i think the president will find very willing partners on capitol hill. i think in this case, we very much take him at his word that he wants to be open and
transparent, in fixing the system and putting new controls in place. >> do you think more people need to be fired over there at the irs? >> well, i think the ig made it clear that there were additional people beyond obviously the obvious one, somebody who made false statements. we're going to -- the ways and means committee is going to be getting interviews and public testimony, to get further on that. but as you said, many of them are civil service. they can be hard to fire. although you can relieve them from doing things with this level of trust. again, the ig report made it clear that the system did not have the safeguards the american people expect, and that will be part of what the administration and congress as a legislative body will have to do, is create that comfort level, that this will never happen again. >> so you're accepting the president's challenge to work in a bipartisan way, to make sure that this never happens again. so he says he's going to do whatever is necessary. are you ready to do the same
thing? >> oh, absolutely. and i think that's where you saw not one, but two committees call on a bipartisan basis for this. elijah cummings and i will disagree on many things, as you can imagine, but this is one where my ranking member came to me almost immediately. we discussed how to go forward. remember, it was our committee that set the ig in motion, june of last year. and he's equally interested in us getting it right. >> let me quickly get your reaction to the other news of the day. the white house releasing 100 pages of documents on the e-mails that resulted in those talking points on the benghazi attack, the attack that killed four americans, including the u.s. ambassador to libya, explaining how susan rice eventually wound up saying in effect what she did say in those five sunday talk shows, a few days after the september 11th attack. i assume you welcome the release of these documents? >> we do welcome them. although releasing them to the press, before releasing them to
the congress, would seem to be pretty enappropriate. there are many other documents that they're still not releasing. the idea that they selectively say they have deliberate process protection as they did in fast and furious, and they still are in these documents, is an area we need to come to grips with the administration, when the american people are lied to, realizing that their work product should be open for criticism and review. >> you know, as you know, these e-mails show it was pretty complex, the back-and-forth between the cia, the white house, the state department, the pentagon. let me read a couple of quotes. this from page 59. a draft note to the cia director. we've tried to work the draft talking points, but have run into major problems. the white house cleared quickly, but state has major concerns. the bureau cleared with a few comments, but asked that justice be brought in. it is evidence that will not happen tonight. and ben rhodes, who is the official at the national security council, has asked that this issue be reviewed tomorrow
morning. then on page 94, a little bit later, an e-mail to the u.s. ambassador to the united nations, susan rice. the first draft apparently seemed unsuitable because they seemed to encourage the reader to infer incorrectly that the cia had warned about a specific attack on our embassy. mike morell noted that these points were not good. and he had taken a heavy editing hand to them. so when you hear these, when you see these e-mails, when you see what was going on, does it satisfy you that all of this back-and-forth was sort of routine, done in good faith, or was there something sinister there? >> we're not accusing anyone of anything sinister. we certainly want to digest these pages, but recognize that these are selected pages. we need to have full access to the deliberative process of the e-mails. i think that's one of the areas we clearly want to have. remember, wolf, this is a situation in which the two men on the ground, the now deceased ambassador, ambassador stevens,
who said to his deputy, gregg, we're under attack. greg hicks who testified he knew this was a terrorist attack from the get-go, certainly the president of libya said so on national television. at the same time, susan rice was delivering false information. when you look at this train, you still have to ask the question, how did they go from the correct information to the incorrect information, and isn't 100 pages or more a pushback on the cia effectively telling the cia, you've got to change your story? >> one final question, congressman, before i let you go. the exchange you had with eric holder today, the attorney general of the united states, on a totally unrelated matter, the secretary -- the labor secretary nominee. it was an angry exchange. and he was furious at you. i want to play the exchange for our viewers, because i want you to respond to what he accused you of. it was pretty biting. >> mr. cummings, my ranking
member, joined in a letter requesting that we have the full contents pursuant to our subpoena of all 1,200. will you make them available to the committee based on our bipartisan request? >> i'll certainly look at the request. it's not something that i have personally been involved in. but i'll look at the request and try to be as responsive as we can. i'm sure there must have been a good reason why only the to and from parts were -- >> you didn't want us to see the details. mr. attorney general -- >> no, no. >> knowing that you -- >> i'm not going to stop talking now. you characterized something -- >> mr. chairman, would you inform the witness as to the rules of this committee? >> the way you conduct yourself as a member of congress. it's unacceptable and it's shameful. >> those are pretty blunt words, unacceptable and shameful the way you conduct yourself, congressman, as a member of congress. i want you to respond to what he said. >> i have to keep doing my job even if the attorney general
objects. thomas perez told us that there were no documents offline. in other words, no private e-mails. it went from zero to 1, to 2, to 34, now 35 responsive e-mails in which he e-mailed privately, including a private e-mail to another private e-mail at hud. these are violations of the federal records act. but more importantly, there were 1,200 e-mails that we simply want to look at. and this is my ranking member and myself, we don't want copies of them, we want to be able to review them to make sure we're satisfied that there are no additional documents. and in the case of the documents we're talking about, they're redacting, these are 35 e-mails in violation of the law that thomas perez had communications offline. we know that one of them is to the white house. one of them is to a hud individual related to a quid pro quo that he conducted secretly in st. paul, minnesota. this investigation is into the
wrongdoing as we view it, at least not illegal, but wrongdoing by the proposed secretary, while he was supposed to be heading up justice in the civil rights division, and areas in which he gave false testimony as to what he did or didn't do. it's a cover-up. we played a tape of his actually instructing somebody in the attorney general's office in minnesota, not to speak about things. so these kinds of facts, and we've produced a fairly lengthy report that's on our website, as to thomas perez and his actions, these were very appropriate questions. i know the attorney general would have liked to have answered for five minutes, and my time would have been done. all i was trying to do is ask him questions to hope that he would release information that a very, very strong democrat and i have both asked for. >> darrell issa, the chairman of the house oversight and government reform committee. mr. chairman, thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you. >> thanks for sticking around and listening to the president and getting your immediate reaction. we appreciate it very much.
>> of course. let's discuss what we just heard. gloria borger is here, joe johns is here. not every day, joe, that you hear a chairman of a powerful committee in the house of representatives that it's behavior that is unacceptable. >> it's a question about whether there was a tradeoff from the dropping of a lawsuit in exchange for keeping a case from going to the supreme court. it's the kind of thing that can create fireworks on capitol hill. but very, very difficult to explain to the americans. >> the labor secretary could be in trouble right now. >> i think what we heard from darrell issa is these issues are all going to continue. he did allow that the president, 'he said it, set the right tone on the statement on the irs today. one thing the president said is, we have to make sure the laws are clear, and we have to work together on making sure there's
not ambiguity. i think you may have disagreements between democrats and republicans about just how to fix the irs law. which may not be clear. so i think what we can see on benghazi, and on the irs, these things are not going to end here. they're going to continue. >> especially given this poisonous atmosphere here in washington right now. don't go too far away. we'll continue our coverage of what the president had to say. all the breaking news. we're also following some legal breaking news, a verdict in the jodi arias trial. the aggravation phase. she is now eligible for the death sentence. also, o.j. simpson, we heard from him today. in years we haven't heard from him. he's testifying in court. he's explaining why he thinks he deserves a new trial on the armed robbery, and kidnapping charges.
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[ male announcer ] now get 50% off brake pads and shoes at meineke. moments ago, you heard the breaking news from the president of the united states, the acting commissioner of the internal revenue service, steven miller, was asked to resign. he has resigned. the president saying the treasury secretary, jack lew, made that request. a statement issued by steve miller, this has been an incredibly difficult time for the irs, given the events of the past few days. and there is a strong and immediate need to restore public trust in the nation's tax agency. i believe the service will benefit from having a new acting commissioner in place during this challenging period. while i recognize that much work needs to be done to restore faith in the irs, i don't want anyone to lose sight of the fact that the irs is comprised of incredibly dedicated and hard
working public servants. that statement from steve miller, the acting, steven miller, the acting commissioner of the irs. the president was very visibly upset in his statement in the east room of the white house moments ago, saying that he will not tolerate the kind of behavior that was implemented over at the irs. much more on this story coming up. other breaking news. there's a lot of it happening. just moments ago, a jury in arizona found jodi arias guilty of extreme cruelty in the first-degree murder of her ex-boyfriend, meaning she could now face the death penalty. let's bring in our senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin. the extreme cruelty part, and i've been saying for days, i wouldn't expect that was a hard verdict in phase two of this trial. what will be much more difficult will be phase three, jeffrey, whether or not the jury decides she deserves to die. >> given the viciousness of this attack, i agree.
this was not a difficult call for the jury. but the third step for the jury is a very simple question, does she deserve to die. that is likely to be much more complicated, and the jury will turn to that hearing starting tomorrow. >> the other story we've been following today, for years, it's been a long time since we heard from o.j. simpson. as you know, he was convicted, now serving a 33-year sentence in prison for armed robbery, abduction, kidnapping, all sorts of charges. now he's suggesting that his lawyer at the time was incompetent. he got bad legal advice. he's seeking a new trial. that's why he showed up at this hearing out in las vegas today, looking a lot heavier than he used to look years ago. you wrote a book on the o.j. simpson trial, jeffrey, as we heard. i'll play a little clip of what -- of an exchange he had earlier today. >> do you think that you're acting legally --
>> yes, i do. >> and why is that? >> well, it was my stuff. i followed what i thought was the law. my lawyer told me, you can't break into a guy's room. i didn't break into anybody's room. i didn't beat up anybody. i didn't try to muscle the guys, i didn't. and the guys acknowledged it was my stuff. even though they claimed they didn't steal it. we know now that the guy lied. that mike had given it to him. i knew that, that bruce knew, that i wouldn't sell these things. bruce knew me, he knew i didn't sell personal items. and he said these are items i never in a million years would have sold. >> how strong of a case do you think he has to reopen this, jeff? >> very weak. his conviction has been affirmed by the nevada supreme court. he's now saying, well, they're
all wrong, i was actually innocent. that is legally irrelevant at this point. the only issue is, did he receive ineffective assistance of counsel. he had a very well-respected lawyer. his claims are almost certain to fail. >> very quickly, though, his argument is that at one point, and this may be good, may be bad, we'll see what happened in this hearing, that the prosecutors had offered a plea deal to his criminal defense attorney, one year in prison, and that o.j. wasn't even informed about this plea bargain agreement, that galanter simply turned it down without consulting his client. would that be enough to reopen this case? >> it's possible it might be. but remember, this is entirely on the basis of o.j. simpson's words. there is no proof that any such offer was ever made. there is no proof that galanter refused to tell him. why would galanter not tell him about a plea offer?
it doesn't make any sense, this claim. but the hearing is just getting started. there will be more evidence, and perhaps his claim will look better. but since it's just o.j. simpson's word, we need to take it with a grain of salt, to put it mildly. >> jeffrey wrote a terrific book on the original o.j. simpson trial. jeffrey, thanks very much. human waste thrown at u.s. guards. that's one of the truly shocking revelations from an exclusive cnn visit to the terrorist de t detention center in guantanamo bay. i want to make things more secure. [ whirring ] [ dog barks ] i want to treat more dogs. ♪ our business needs more cases. [ male announcer ] where do you want to take your business?
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our pentagon correspondent chris lawrence is at guantanamo bay right now. he got an exclusive look inside. we want to warn our viewers, some of what you're about to see and hear is very graphic indeed. chris, share with our viewers what you've learned. >> wolf, when we got down in some of the cell blocks, we couldn't help but notice that the guards are wearing splash guards. these are plastic masks that protect them from the feces and urine that's being thrown at them at times. and tonight, you know, some of those guards, for the first time, here on cnn, are going on camera to tell their side of the story. cnn got exclusive access to camps 5 and 6, where most of the detainees are being held. we saw individual cells, media rooms, with leg shackles bolted to the ground, and communal areas that used to be filled with detainees. right now, the camp 6 detainees
are all being held in individual cells, like these. patrolling those cells, young guards, the age of college students. and for the first time we're seeing the faces of those who guard the detainees. >> they use and i've had a lot of experience with that unfortunately. especially caucasian females this he do not like us at all. >> she's 21 years old and down in the cellblock she has been called every name in the book. >> the most common one is. [ beep ] whore, slut. they'll say things like i'll piss all over your face. they'll say you had [ beep ] on you. you've been is dire. 30 refuse to take the liquid nutritional drinks and have to be fed through a tube. but officials admit the clock is ticking on this option.
>> anybody's had a can of ensure or muscle milk or whatever, it says right on it it's not designed to be a long term sole source of nutrition. there are long term consequences of getting all your meals through a liquid supplement. >> reporter: all of this tension is leading to more conflict, including so-called splashing where detainees squirt guards with a mix of water, urine, and feces. >> that is their biggest way to act out is throw feces at guards and it's been happening consistently for the last month and a half. every single day there is a splashing. >> reporter: in fact, you can see the results of some of the splashing here on the ceiling, pieces of fees ces that are sti stuck to the ceiling. one guard has been splashed several times. >> reporter: then you go to the hospital. they draw your blood. they'll let you know if that detainee has any diseases and then you go back to work. >> reporter: she told me that sometimes it's all she can do to
just sort of bottle it up and just walk away. now that guard worked at ft. levinworth before coming here. she says there is no comparison between that and the experience of being here at guantanamo bay, wolf. >> we know president obama wonts to shut it down and move the prisoners out of there to some other location. you see any evidence that anything along those lines is in the works? >> reporter: just the opposite, wolf. in fact, the military is asking for $200 million to do renovations here. in fact, build a replacement for one of the camps that is holding the high value detainees, closing it down. it looks more like if you follow the money trail, expansion and staying just the way it is. >> chris lawrence on the scene for us. a rare visit to gitmo, the u.s. military facility in cuba. we'll check in with you tomorrow. excellent work, chris.
thanks very much, very disturbing report, indeed. coming up, we're also getting new information into "the situation room" about the u.s. diplomat russia is accusing of spying. we're learning details of his background. stand by. copd makes it hard to breathe... but with advair, i'm breathing better. so now i can help make this a great block party. ♪ [ male announcer ] advair is clinically proven to help significantly improve lung function. unlike most copd medications, advair contains both an anti-inflammatory
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if charges by russian intelligence are true, ryan fogel's days as a spy are almost certainly over. the american diplomat assigned to the u.s. embassy in moscow is accused of trying to recruit a russian double agent. brian todd is looking into his background. he's here. what you are finding out? >> we're finding out there was
another case earlier this year, russian operative says another cia officer was expelled from russia for attempting to recruit american russian citizens earlier this year. we have learned new information on the background of the man at the center of this spy case. >> reporter: russian officials identify him as ryan fogel. they say he is a cia spy trying to recruit a russian operative to spy for the americans. in a video released by rt television, a russian intelligence official is heard angrily chastising him. >> translator: you know perfectly well that they are actively helping in the investigation of the bombing in boston. >> reporter: but the man videotaped by russian officials wearing a wig seems to have a background that is not so ridiculous. according to officials at schools we contacted, officials who looked at these pictures of him this is likely the same ryan fogel who grew up near st. louis, went to mary institute and st. louis country day school, a private institution that costs nearly $23,000 a year
for the upper grades. fogel graduated from mary institute in 2002 then according to school officials he went to colgate university in upstate new york. there by all accounts, he was a straight arrow and an achiever, member of a fraternity that does not allow drinking in its houses. and he was selected for the senior honor society, a prestigious group with only 27 26 members. the professor said he was a student of his in a class on national security. he says fogel's interest was in mid willing east politics and a class trip to meet diplomats stands out. >> ryan was especially strong in the way that he posed questions. he was prepared for the meetings that we had with diplomats. >> he graduated in 2006 with a double major in political science and international relations. but his apparently fast track career may have hit a snag. intelligence experts say if he is in the cia, he'll never be
able to go back to russia and likely won't work undercover again. we called and e-mailed a st. louis area couple who we strongly believe ryan are fogel's parents to see if they would comment on the story. we did not hear back. the xa xa also has not commented. >> one of the big question marks is why the russians decided to make this huge display on russian tv about what normally both countries if there is an official from the embassy accused of espionage, they usually play it down. >> they made a big display out of it. they said he was recruiting russian officers to spy for the americans. by blowing his cover, they may have lost that lead. they may not ever find that russian mole. experts say they displayed him to make a political point. we don't know specifically the reason that they did it. what was behind it? was watt point they were trying to make? we may never know that now. >> still no official reaction to the cia or the state department? >> no. and there likely won't be. >> all right. brian todd, thank you very much for that report. you can always follow the
breaking news, what's going on in "the situation room" on twitter. can you always tweet me. you can tweet the show. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. see you back here tomorrow. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. "outfront," next, breaking news, president obama announces a shake-up at the irs. the man at the top, gone. plus, more breaking news with the white house releasing more than 100 pages of internal e-mails regarding at tack in benghazi. and shocking necessiw details a the abuse of three women held captive in a cleveland home. one of them called a human punching bag. an investigation. let's go "outfront".